Children who experience bullying could go on to develop psychosis years later – and it is not just the victims who are affected, a new study has found.
A team from the Universities of Warwick and Bristol assessed a cohort of 4,720 children between the ages of 8 and 11. They found that children who were bullied over a number of years, as well as those who were bullies themselves in primary school, were four-and-a-half times more likely to suffer a psychotic experience by the time they reached 18 than peers who had never experienced any type of bullying.
Furthermore, children who were only affected by bullying for a brief period were also at an increased risk. The 'psychotic experiences' included hearing voices, hallucinations and paranoia.
Lead author Professor Dieter Wolke, a chartered psychologist, said in the journal Psychological Medicine: “We want to eradicate the myth that bullying at a young age could be viewed as a harmless rite of passage that everyone goes through - it casts a long shadow over a person's life and can have serious consequences for mental health.”